This old Holden has finally returned home

AGR_Holden (11)The thermometer on the dash showed 13 degrees as we slowly cruised through the tiny settlement of Yacka, in South Australia’s mid-north a little while back. Fifty kilometers an hour felt slow after the expanse of farming land we’d just traversed, but the slower pace allowed for the time-honored pastime of city-slicker car nuts in the country; peering into each and every property and open shed in the hope of catching a glimpse of an old 911 or 2002 that has somehow escaped notice for the past few decades.

AGR_Holden (9)On this occasion there was nothing from Stuttgart or Modena to be found, instead something suitably old and rusty from just down the road in Adelaide was proudly poking out of an old workshop. Old Holden’s aren’t my thing but anything old and rusty holds some interest to me, and it’s not like there was anything else automotive to be doing instead. I made my excuses to my passengers and quickly pulled over to dash across the street, camera in hand. I figured I’d fire off a few quick shots for my Instagram feed and call it a day.

AGR_Holden (1)That was until an old retired bloke emerged from the shadows and introduced himself at Steve. I asked him about the Holden, and it turned out there was more of a story here than initially met the eye.

AGR_Holden (6)The Holden in question was a 1956 FJ Special which Steve had dragged off of a nearby farm a few years ago. He was initially attracted because, despite its obvious corrosion issues, was totally original and complete. As an old Holden nut with a few other FJ’s and FX’s, he reckoned it was now pretty rare to find one that hadn’t been messed with or paddock bashed over the years.

AGR_Holden (3)But this is where the story gets interesting. A few years ago, the old garage on the main street of Yacka had come up for sale in a very run-down state. It had been the Holden dealership in the area from 1948 until the mid sixties, so Steve bought it and has set about a very long term renovation project to slowly bring it back up to standard as a place to house his small collection in the future. Really, what’s cooler than having an old Holden dealership as a place to keep your small collection of old Holden’s? Steve has so far got it watertight and has replaced a number of rotted wooden beams, and so the work continues.

AGR_Holden (10)The original part of the building, where the FJ is parked, had been in service as a garage since it was built in 1927. In the late forties the owners decided to become agents for the then new Holden, and it was General Motors who had them extend and build the stone showroom in preparation for the arrival of the 48-215 in 1948.

AGR_Holden (8)Through an unexpected twist of fate, it turned out that this very FJ was sold new to a local Yacka farming family through this very dealership in 1956. So not only does Steve own the dealership, but he owns an original car that was sold new through it.

AGR_Holden (5)The FJ was passed onto a nearby farming family after a few years who drove it until it became too old, and then parked it on their farm to rot. The mentality back in the day was that the old cars were worth nothing as a trade in on a new one, so if you’ve got the space why not just keep it? It’s an interesting little comparison to today’s finance and residual driven world where cars are flipped over every few years to the latest model. The idea of buying a new everyday car and keeping it forever seems vaguely daft today, and I’m not sure that’s a positive thing.

AGR_Holden (7)Other than dusting it off every so often, Steve plans to keep the FJ exactly as it is. Once the building is finished, he reckons it will make a fun comparison when parked in the showroom alongside his beautifully restored FJ that is currently kept off site. As for the building, he hopes it will become a meeting place for local country car enthusiasts, and that it becomes well-known as a place to stop in when he happens to be there.

AGR_Holden (4)Any Given Reason has never before had a desire or cause to visit Yacka, indeed I had never heard of the town until now. But I reckon we’ve now got a damned good reason, and might stop by again in a few years to check on Steve’s progress.

AGR_Holden (2)Words and photos by Andrew Coles

AGR_Holden

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3 Comments

  1. Viano Jaksa July 12, 2016 Reply

    Andrew, my Dad, and Luke's Nonno, worked in Yacka on the Morgan-Whyalla pipeline soon after emigrating to Australia, so it's a special place in Jaksa history - and my first car, as a 16-year old, was an FJ. Great story.....happy memories!!

  2. Jim stratmann July 13, 2016 Reply

    Jim stratmann well done andrew. I have a neighbour with an interesting collection of junk who also talks of a museum. A mere pipe dream, i fear. What do with old junk is dilemma many of us suffer from.regards,
    Jim.

  3. Jim stratmann July 13, 2016 Reply

    Very good andrew

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